Saturday, 17 November 2012

Paying it forward

A couple of years ago, I lost my mobile phone. It didn’t cause a panic, mostly because I wasn’t aware I had lost it until the person who found it let me know. I had been on my way to work and the phone had dropped from my bag as I made a mad dash across the street before the lights turned red.

A young woman heading in the opposite direction at the same time found the phone. A resourceful person, she immediately checked the phone's address book, found the number for my mother and gave her a ring. My mother told her where to reach me at work and the young woman did. It all happened so fast that she had called my work before I got there.

I was very grateful for her, especially once it dawned on me how difficult my life might have got if I’d had to try and locate the phone myself or if I'd lost if for good. She got a little present as a thank you, and I got a lesson in how not to store my phone and what to do if I ever find a phone myself.

Yesterday, I found someone’s mobile. There it was, lying on a strip of grass between the street and the pavement. I paused and picked it up and immediately wished I hadn’t. But once seen, it couldn’t be unseen. I looked around for anyone nearby who might act like they had just lost something, but I was alone.

There I stood, holding the stupid mobile, wondering what I should do. Should I just put in on the balustrade of a nearby building so that it could be seen from afar? I immediately discarded that idea. Should I take it to the lost and found? But it was Friday evening; it wouldn’t be open. So should I try and locate the owner myself?

I remembered then the handy way the young woman had located me when I lost my phone. But, alas, this option wasn't available for me. The phone was dead. So, despite the hour, I decided to head to the nearby police station after all. I had this notion that they would have a box there where people could leave the items they have found after office hours. 

Turned out, they didn’t. And there wasn’t a helpful police officer in sight either.

Again I stood there, holding the phone, wondering what I should do. I didn’t feel like keeping someone’s property over the weekend so that I could come back on Monday, during the office hours. In the end, I just put it in the station’s post box. They’ll either do something about the phone or they don’t, but at least it’s out of my hands.

It wasn’t until I returned home and told my husband about the incident that he pointed out that it might not have been such a smart move after all. “I bet it puts the whole place on high alert to find a phone in their post box.”

So, my chance to pay forward a good deed done to me didn’t exactly go well. But I’m not discouraged. Next time I find something, things might go differently. And if I’m lucky, the police won’t find out it was me who put the phone in the post box.

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